Daning opened Oct. 20 with about 100 tenants, including coffee shops, restaurants, offices, a gym, a yoga center, a movie theater and a Starwood hotel, The Four Points by Sheraton, all stretched across two dozen buildings and courtyards.
Location not known for fun
What the developers, Chongbang Group's Shanghai Forrester Development Co., weren't sure the open-air, shopping and lifestyle center would have is people. Although Zhabei, the district where the mall is located in northern Shanghai, is heavily populated, it has long lacked retail and entertainment facilities, so Shanghainese aren't used to going there for fun.
To lure them toward Daning -- and away from rival destinations such as Xintiandi, a well-established dining and shopping zone in Shanghai's city center -- the company created an all-video site that lets consumers experience Daning virtually before making the trip.
When visitors reach the site, they choose whether to continue in the virtual realm as a teen boy or a girl. Then they are whisked from a normal-looking apartment living room into Daning.
Hanging out at the mall, digitally
But instead of merely looking at clothes on a rack or watching a local fashion show inside the mall, their virtual persona is a model in a fashion show, and the clothes they see are available in the shops. And they are exposed to more than shopping. Through the site, their persona can do yoga, work out at the gym, go to the movies or visit Starbucks for a coffee.
The site will be refreshed regularly with new items taken directly from the stores, and the developers are negotiating with tenants to be profiled on the site as a marketing strategy for specific outlets. Another objective of the website is to build a database of Daning members who can be reached through direct marketing with special offers and promotions.
An online campaign "was an unconventional way to promote a real estate project, and the site is very experiential and innovative, especially by Chinese standards. But the developers know the people they are trying to reach are using the digital media space and want to make the marketing for it something they can relate to," said Johan Vakidis, creative director, OgilvyOne Worldwide, Shanghai.
The target demo
"The brief was to make Daning the coolest place in the world and make it appeal to China's digital-youth generation, that's the target market," he added. For that reason, the boy and girl from the site eventually meet in the complex as well. "We threw a bit of romance in the story, for fun."
The first phase of the site was shot in front of a green screen, like you'd use to shoot special effects for a movie, film while Daning was still under construction. But phase two will be shot on location. Meanwhile, OgilvyOne is working on a one-minute "making of the site" movie it will place on YouTube and Chinese equivalents like Toodou.